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Welcome to Dandelion House

Imagine a compact house where everything is functional, energy- and water-efficient, and/or recycled.

By Rory O’Connor
Three views of the interior of the Dandelion House

Photography by Green Street Studio

In 2008, when Shaker Life profiled Kevin and Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells’ Ludlow neighborhood home, Dandelion House, the house was brand new and poised to be Northeast Ohio’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified home.

Kyle described it as a manifestation of her and her husband’s interest in “sustainable urban spaces, and design that makes sense.”

It was designed by Kevin, who at the time was an architect with City Architecture, now with RDL Architects. Contributing writer Beth Friedman-Romell wrote that Dandelion House “sets high standards for conservation without sacrificing comfort or good looks…. The exterior of Dandelion House presents a contemporary take on traditional Shaker Tudor design, featuring brick, wood beams, and a sharply peaked roof. A stylized dandelion motif graces several of the energy-efficient windows.”

Kevin explained the motif: “The dandelion is a humble weed, but it’s enormously successful and useful. It survives in urban environments, under all kinds of conditions. We’re hoping the concepts we’ve applied here will take root and spread, like the dandelion.”

Every inch of this 1,754 square-foot home serves a purpose. It has three bedrooms, two full baths, an open living area, mudroom, and rear patio. There is ample storage in the attic and the second floor of the detached garage, another green feature.

The kitchen/dining/living space is flooded with natural light, connecting the family with the outdoors. Dandelion House has no basement, which saves money, energy, and some plant life. The mechanicals and laundry area are on the second floor; with the water heater and bathrooms tightly clustered, the family has to wait only a few seconds for hot water. Moreover, the plumbing system manifold sends water directly to each fixture, through a small diameter pipe, to reduce the amount of water sitting in the pipes, losing heat. Low-flow toilets and shower heads further increase water efficiency.

Water conservation is a key feature of the Dreyfuss-Wells landscape plan as well. Rainwater from the house and garage roofs is collected in a 1,100 gallon cistern and used for irrigation. The overflow will drain first to a pond, then to a rain garden planted with native species.

Today, says Kevin, “We’re fortunate to live in a house that’s compact, flexible, and easy to care for. It helps us focus on the important things that make a home: our family, our friends, and our wonderful neighbors. And in the midst of this pandemic, we’re just grateful to have a warm, dry, and comfortable place to live.”

Originally published in Shaker Life, Summer 2020.